Changing Lives with Bariatric Surgery

What Susan Dennis says is most extraordinary about her life now is that it is so ordinary. In the last few months, she’s taken many long walks, gone to a baseball game, flown to Florida on vacation, and walked down the beach in a swimsuit. Nothing that unusual for a 40-year-old woman, except if you are Susan Dennis.

Flash back a year, and Susan says you wouldn’t recognize her. She weighed over 300 pounds and had full-blown diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other serious health issues.

“I didn’t go out, I didn’t like seeing friends, walking was a chore,” Susan says. “I felt weighed down by myself, by everything. It wasn’t a happy existence.”

A Lifelong Struggle

Susan has struggled with her weight since she was 16. Over the years she tried fad diets, weight loss groups, even medically supervised prescription diets. But nothing worked. Finally, with her health in steep decline, her endocrinologist suggested bariatric surgery.

At first, Susan balked at the idea. “I told her no. I thought it might be the easy way out and that I could do it on my own.”

But as her health worsened, Susan finally realized she needed help.

The Right Decision

Alex Gandsas, MD

Susan decided to have gastric bypass surgery with Alex Gandsas, MD, who leads AAMC’s Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery program. Susan says she liked that the care felt “very personalized.”

Dr. Gandsas says it’s essential to have a rigorous bariatric surgery program that addresses the whole person.

“We are helping our patients engage in a different life,” Dr. Gandsas says. “The surgery helps them change course and shed weight, but it’s only one component. We want them to have all the tools they need to permanently succeed.”

Intensive Help Before, and After

At AAMC, weight loss patients begin preparing for surgery six months in advance with medical testing, diet, exercise, and nutrition counseling. And it doesn’t end there. After surgery, patients continue to receive careful monitoring and meal plans.

Just 4½ months after her surgery, Susan was doing great. In addition to having lost 83 pounds, her blood pressure was down and her diabetes was fully controlled. What’s more, Susan says she’s happy all the time. “I just feel wonderful, I feel like I can take over the world.”

But for now she’s content trying to live her extraordinarily ordinary life. Next on the list: yoga classes.

To learn more about bariatric surgery at Anne Arundel Medical Center, please visit

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